Fertilizer & Food Security: IFDC Voucher Program for Farm Inputs
Paper presented at the 11th International Annual Conference of the Arab Fertilizer Association, Cairo, Egypt, February 1-3, 2005.
Input voucher programs for fertilizer and improved seed provide a market-friendly means of providing (1) direct subsidies or crop production credit to subsistence farmers, or (2) income transfer that creates linkages between these farmers and private sector input dealers. Vouchers represent a sustainable market development tool or an emergency marketing tool. An integral part of the voucher programs is the provision of technical assistance to both the recipient farmers and the input dealers.
The voucher systems discussed in this paper illustrate the flexibility of this practical policy tool and demonstrate how food security and market development can be linked with benefits for all participants. For donors they provide a means of supporting both poverty alleviation and sustainable market development with an exit strategy. Some details of these programs are discussed in this paper and future developments and refinements are considered.